Accepted Paper:

Competitive versus block funding and creativity in Japan: status contingency effects  

Authors:

John Walsh (Georgia Institute of Technology)
You-Na Lee
Jian Wang (KU Leuven)

Paper short abstract:

This paper empirically tests for differences in the novelty of funded outputs between internal block and competitive project funded papers. Findings suggest competitive project selection procedures are less receptive to novel ideas from researchers with low academic status.

Paper long abstract:

In many countries the scientific funding system is shifting from an internal block funding model towards a competitive project funding one. However, there is growing concern that the competitive project funding system favors relatively safe, conventional projects at the expense of risky, novel research. It is important to assess different funding models in order to design a a better funding system for science. This paper empirically tests for differences in the novelty of funded outputs between internal block and competitive project funded papers, in the setting of Japan where both funding models play a significant role. Combining survey data from a large sample of research projects in Japan and bibliometric information about the publications produced from these projects, we find that projects funded by competitive funds on average have a higher novelty compared with those funded by internal block funds. However, such positive effects only hold for researchers with high academic status, such as senior and male researchers. On the contrary, compared with internal block funding, competitive project funding has a much stronger detrimental effect on novelty for low status scientists (junior and female researchers). The findings suggest that the competitive project selection procedure is less receptive to novel ideas from researchers with low academic status and therefore discourages their novel research. These findings can serve as a warning about potential bias in competitive funding allocation procedures and suggest the importance of secured stable funding for allowing researchers with low status to pursue their novel ideas.

Panel T020
Governing Excellent Science